Whether you are considering giving a home to a little hedgehog, or are looking into breeding hedgehogs at home, it helps to know the ins and outs of a female hedgehog’s reproductive cycle.
Being prepared is always best, and knowing what to expect from your female hedgehog saves you from any surprises, and allows you to give your hedgehog the best treatment possible.
So, do hedgehogs have periods? Hedgehogs do not have periods or a menstrual cycle like humans do. They do follow a rough cycle of 9 days on and 7 days off, but they are considered induced ovulators, and will ovulate, or go into heat, when in the presence of a male. Your hedgehog should not have a period or bleed, and if you notice any blood, contact the veterinarian as it might be a sign of other health issues.
This changes the way the hedgehogs are bred and is something to consider when you are wanting to expand the litter.
Breeding hedgehogs is not an easy feat, so understanding how to time the breeding process, and the signs to look out for with your female hedgehog, will help it all go a bit smoother.
Do Hedgehogs Have Periods?
Hedgehogs do go into heat and have an estrus cycle, but it is also considered that they are induced ovulators. It can be quite confusing to figure out when your hedgehog is in heat, but the rule of thumb is that their cycle lasts 9 days, and is off for 7 days. However, this is not absolute.
Many breeders still go by the belief that hedgehogs are induced ovulators, and that their reproductive cycle kicks in when there is a male present. Once again, it can be difficult to tell when they are in heat.
In order to catch hedgehogs when they are in cycle, breeders place female and male hedgehogs together for a couple of days. They are placed together for around 4-5 days, separated for 4-5 days, and then placed back together for another 4-5 days.
Some breeders prefer to keep the male and female together for 10 days straight, while others only allow for 3 days, watching to see if the female is responsive.
Using these timelines seem to work well to ensure that the female is in heat while with the male. This covers her following a cycle, and her being an induced ovulator.
Do Hedgehogs Bleed In Heat?
Hedgehogs do not bleed when they are in heat. This is mainly due to their ovulation being triggered when they are in the presence of a male, so you do not have to look out for signs of them being in heat, or for ovulation.
When placed with a male, a female hedgehog will go into heat, and if all goes well, there might be babies 30 or 40 days later!
You should not expect your hedgehog to bleed if she is in heat, and if you do notice blood in her cage, it might be from another injury and issue, and it is best to just take her to the vet to be checked.
Health Care For A Female Hedgehog
Raising female and male hedgehogs does come with its differences, and there is specific care that female hedgehogs need.
Other than understanding that female hedgehogs do not necessarily follow a heat cycle, and instead have their heat induced by the presence of a male, here are some other health care factors to consider:
- The urinary and reproductive systems and associated problems are closely related in a female hedgehog.
- A female hedgehog sits close to the ground, which increases their chances of urinary and reproductive tract issues.
- Blood in the stool is an indication of a urinary tract infection. Other signs such as a change in eating, a general decline in health and elimination habits also indicate an infection.
- Breeding increases the risk of issues such as problems during pregnancy, birth, and with postnatal care.
Should I Spay My Hedgehog?
It is quite debated on whether or not you should have your female hedgehog spayed. Some veterinarians do recommend that you have a female spayed, but there are risks that come with the invasive procedure and the anesthesia needed.
Proactive spaying is not popular among owners of female hedgehogs, and not all veterinarians recommend it. Female hedgehogs will spend most of their lives in their own cage, away from a male, so there is no point in putting them through the procedure if they will not come in contact with a male.
There are no current studies done to show the different advantages or disadvantages of preventative spaying. However, most veterinarians will recommend that you have your female hedgehog spayed if they present signs of urinary or reproductive issues.
Things To Consider Before Breeding Hedgehogs
Baby hedgehogs are seriously the cutest things around. You might be absolutely besotted with your female hedgehog, but this will be taken to a whole new level when you see her little babies following her around the cage!
Breeding your hedgehogs is exciting and it is incredibly rewarding, but you need to know that it is fairly risky as well. There is a lot of responsibility that comes with breeding your hedgehogs, and it should not be taken lightly.
There are many things to consider before deciding whether or not you are ready to breed your hedgehogs, and you need to make sure that you have the time and resources to see the process through.
Here is what you need to consider:
- You are willing to put the female hedgehog at risk through pregnancy and childbirth, and you are prepared to lose her if any complications do arise.
- You will be able to find good, caring homes for all of the babies. Yes, you can keep all of the babies yourself, but remember that you will need up to 8 new cages for the new litter.
- If there are any complications during birth, or if any of the babies have health issues, you might face quite a hefty veterinarian bill.
- There is a chance that the mom might reject her babies, and you will then need to take care of them, which takes a huge effort or be prepared to have them put to sleep.
You should never take breeding lightly. It is a big ask of the mother, and there are complications that might arise!
When Can Female Hedgehogs Be Bred?
Female hedgehogs can fall pregnant from 8 weeks old, but this does not mean that you should start breeding them then.
Female hedgehogs should not be bred before 5 months of age, as they would not have finished growing and maturing before then. Once the hedgehog has been bred, her hormonal changes will stop further maturing and can have a drain on their metabolism.
This halt on their growth from having babies can lead to permanent effects on their health.
You should not breed a female hedgehog over a year and a half for the first time either. There is a good chance that the bones in her pelvic area would have fused, and she would not actually be able to have her own babies.
Female hedgehogs also become menopausal around 3.5 years of age, and will not be able to breed after this. Most breeders notice this coming along by litter sizes becoming smaller as this age is approached.
As a breeder, you always need to take the age of your female hedgehog into consideration, to determine whether breeding is right for her.
Do hedgehogs eat their own poop?
Yes, hedgehogs can eat their own poop. If you notice your hedgehog eating their own poop, it might be a sign that they are lacking something in their diet, and are trying to reclaim some nutrients through their poop.
They might be looking for extra protein, sugars, or other nutrients, as their poop often contains undigested protein, sugars, or even partly digested cellulose.
Can 2 hedgehogs live together?
It is usually recommended that hedgehogs should be housed alone, but sometimes they can accept companions, and this is usually two females being kept together. The first introductions must be made with caution, and only try home two females together.
Can a mother hedgehog eat her babies?
A mother hedgehog can eat her babies, and it is common to see this. She will usually do this if there is a disturbance in her environment and they fear for their babies’ lives. They would rather absorb their babies’ nutrients than it going to a predator.
Try to keep the mother hedgehog in a calm, caring environment when she has her babies, and try to make no or very little changes to her environment and routine.
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